Wot I Think: The Witcher 2

By Jim Rossignol on May 18th, 2011 at 5:34 pm.


So. Finished. I even had a little time to play through some of the alternate storyline stuff. What do I think? Well, I don’t think I’ll be putting any spoilers in this review, so you can read my thoughts on the subject with some degree of safety. If something else needs go above the jump here, it should probably be this: The Witcher 2 is going end up being talked about for a very long time to come.


This is one of the most significant games of 2011. Right now it looks like most significant PC-only game of 2011.

The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings is the sequel to 2007′s wonky fantasy RPG, The Witcher, and it improves on that precarious foundation in almost every conceivable way. I suppose the ambition of the developers for their work should have been clear after they relaunched their original game with the voice acting and character animation redone in 2008, to give us an Enhanced Edition, but even that was a pale creature when compared to the muscular effort of their most recent work. The Witcher 2 is a collossal beast in terms of vision and complexity, and it has engrossed me for the past few days. It’s shorter than the original by some measure, but it is burning half as long to be twice as bright.

I’m getting ahead of myself, and giving away the critical conclusion about how much I admire this game. There’s more to it than simple admiration however, as it’s tough to have an uncomplicated attitude towards this game. So let’s start with the basics. It’s a third-person fantasy RPG. There’s level-based progression, which allows you to unlock skills via a large talent tree. There’s a sizeable, linear story with dozens of quests, set across two distinct, large areas, and two other smaller intro and outro locales. The story is told mostly via dialogue scenes and cutscenes, of which there are many. Your choices have genuine impact in the game world, to the point where the tale told actually wholly diverges after the first chapter. It’s a huge bifurcation of plot, and means that pretty much everyone who enjoys this game through the first time is going to want to play it through a second time.


That story is set within the world of the titular Witcher, who is the creation of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Sapkowski created the character in the 1980s and then wrote a number of novels and short stories based on The Witcher’s exploits. Those stories have proven rather popular. The Witcher himself is a chap called Geralt of Rivia, whose genetic mutations means that he is great at fighting, can make a little magic, and is popular with the ladies. All these elements go toward defining CD Projekt’s games, in which we can watch over Geralt’s shoulder as he slays monsters, cast spells, makes potions, collects herbs, has “romps” with sexy females, and a lot of other things that might happen in a world where a cynical magical mercenary with a warped-but-strong code of ethics makes his home.

One of the defining characteristics of Sapkowski ‘s world is that it is morally ambiguous, and fraught with complex politics. While it’s a standard fantasy set up with elves, dwarves, and humans, the dynamic between them is interesting. Humans are warlike and prejudicial towards the dwindling older races, and also fight among themselves in a baroque, multi-factional struggle over land and power. This means that The Witcher 2 has a relatively complicated plot, with numerous characters who are introduced with little scene-setting or explanation. This is one of the first points at which some of The Witcher 2′s intended audience might start to feel a little uncomfortable. As a player you are dropped into the middle of an ongoing story, with minimal exposition, and little reason to care about the characters that Geralt himself obvious does care about.

To be honest, though, I tend to loathe standard modes of exposition in games, and I find the labyrinthine plotting of this game refreshing. Although there are villains, there’s no Chosen One, no Ultimate Evil, just a lot of petty, powerful people squabbling under the shadow of magical weirdness, and all underwritten by the machinations of sorcerers, adventurers, assassins and other complicated, interested – and interesting – parties. It’s quite a world, but it definitely doesn’t welcome you in.


Nor does the difficulty of the game. While there’s a lot of wandering about and chatting, and even a bit of shopping, The Witcher 2 is action-heavy, not least when it comes to fighting. Combat is real-time, and is reliant on you being nifty with your positioning and timing. You perform fast blows with left-click, heavier, slower blows with right-click, and blocking with E. There are also some spells, but I’ll come to that in a moment. What’s weird about The Witcher 2 is that the prologue is about the hardest bit in terms of how this combat system handles you. There’s a lot fighting and a lot of getting flanked by groups of enemies. Because you don’t unlock skills to cope with being flanked until later in the game, the prologue (which lasts a couple of hours) and chapter one (many hours more) are significantly tougher than the chapters that follow.

It’s a peculiarly ill-judged baptism of fire (literally at some points). Where you’re expecting a game to teach you how it works and lead you by the hand, The Witcher 2 offers nothing but a few text-based tips boxes. If you don’t take time to figure out that you have to constantly dodge away with the spacebar, or use magic to buff your combat, you are going to struggle. And the game does not tell beginners this. The spells are barely mentioned, and you’ll need to stop and figure it out for yourself if you want to know what they do. While there are situations in which they /are/ introduced to you, at no point are you explicitly taught that it is a lot easier if you use the shield power to protect yourself in combat, for example

Of course by this point many gamers will have dropped difficulty from Normal, to Easy. You can do this at any time in the game, which is a friendly feature, but there’s an issue with that. Difficulty of combat on Easy is too easy. You can basically grind down any enemy by just beating them to death, and that’s not satisfying. Normal is much better, as you have to think, move, parry, and use magic in a timely fashion to win. This is a real challenge, however, and often just too hard. Frustratingly, Geralt is slightly too slow for this to really be a fluid experience. You will find yourself hammering keys while waiting for animations to play out. Although the system is extremely elegant, and soon mastered, your own skills then become limited by this mechanical system. You want Geralt to get up faster, to cast the spell when you demand it, and so on. He’s simply not agile enough to make for a truly satisfying combat experience. It’s very close to being dynamic, and the wandering cursor which hops from enemy to enemy (but can be locked by holding down Alt) sends you leaping about and means it occasionally feels very alive. But only occasionally. You can see exactly what CDP were trying to do, but actually just the wrong side of being frustrating. This is probably the biggest problem The Witcher 2 faces.


That said, there are times when you feel awesome, particularly into chapter two, when your powers have grown considerably. Some of the scenes in that, where I was able to take on multiple enemies, raking them with magical damage as I darted around with my sword, were extremely satisfying. Basically, the pacing of difficulty in the game feels wrong, and that’s going to be extremely off-putting for many.

Speaking of swords, I should mention loot and equipment. Now, this isn’t a loot-focused game, by any means. I used just a handful of different swords through the entire game, and only a single different outfit from the one Geralt started with. That said, good equipment does make a difference to your overall performance, and it’s notable when you step up to something better.

Irritatingly for me, The Witcher’s loot system strikes one of my pet peeves in its sensitive parts. Things in the world are not “real” in the sense that they are in some other games. So you might see swords or armour, but you can only pick up what the game decides has been dropped. This can be a little frustrating, but at least they’ve been reasonably smart about it (so you lose a sword at one point a replacement is dropped soon thereafter, even if you have to look for it). There’s also a staggering amount of incidental material dropped for crafting and alchemy.


Yes, crafting and alchemy are both heavily in evidence, even though they are basically optional/superfluous. You don’t need to indulge in either to get through the game, but they certainly help. Well, they do if you can bothered with them. I munched my way through a few potions, but got bored of picking up herbs and icky monster bits. I HAD PLOT TO GET THROUGH. That stuff could have been left out as far as I’m concerned, so I can’t pretend to care about it. What it does do is reward exploration, so you’re given some reason to spend more time poking about in the various corners of the the large maps you’re set loose in-

STOP.

Stop.

Stop.

I’ve not yet mentioned how artfully crafted the world of this game is. And that’s really at the fore for me. I want you to leave this piece of writing with some thoughts about how beautiful The Witcher 2 is. It’s the kind of beautiful where you find yourself gazing over particular details, a stoned smile on your face. There was a moment where I stumbled across a shallow lake, with forest glades all around. A moment of serene wilderness. I marvelled at the fact that I could make out a shallow path through the milky water that allowed me to cross the lake. It was exquisite: naturalistic, perfect. The Witcher 2 is filled with details like this. The details are rich, and glorious.


The crows that are perched on ruined walls and gallows’ beams, the idle chatter of peasants in the town square, the way enemies crumple and die, the way the time of day shifts, the amazing horror of spider-like monsters descending trees in the forest, the chillingly brilliant undead materialisation stuff that I can’t possibly spoiler here. All these things come together within The Witcher’s world to make me want to go back and run my eyes over it again and again.

The Witcher 2 is the kind of beautiful where you will start thinking about spending money on graphics cards and stuff. You’ll want this to be dressed in its best.

This beauty extends to all the inhabitants of the world. Even when they’re mongrel-ugly bastards, they’re believable and boldly drawn. The way they hang out in the world, or chat when you interrupt them, is just right. The Witcher 2′s characters are without exception strong, and beautifully imagined. Most of the voice acting is well-delivered, with only one or two lines executed inappropriately. It’s even funny at times. Yes, there are actually one or two jokes that made me, an oil-hearted laugh-miser, blurt out the happy noise. I couldn’t believe it.

It’s perhaps not as large a game world as I would have liked. I think I got through it in around twenty four hours, and although that was a hasty run, I’m sure it could be completed much faster. There are two main areas to explore – with the prologue and chapter three being more sort of book-end pieces – and each of these sprawls off in a number of directions, with sidequests, dungeons and odd vignettes. It doesn’t feel like enough, though. Which is probably because I just want more. More of these entertaining characters, these brual fights, and these oddball quests.


While much of the dialogue shines, the writing isn’t all as good as I’d like it to be, and I’m unsure of how much of that is a remnant from Sapkowski’s work. For example, there’s a moment where the characters make a Lord Of The Rings reference, and then dismiss it as a “fairy tale”. It’s quite out of place, and jars badly. Making that kind of genre meta-reference doesn’t suit the game, and doesn’t make sense. Jokes yes, but this isn’t Magicka. There’s also the constant reference to modern scientific terms. I understand that is in keeping with The Witcher’s back-fiction, but it’s incongruous and just comes across as a series of anachronistic mistakes in the writing. These issues, combined with the overall opacity of the plot do not welcome anyone with either a drifting attention span, or a pernickety sense for imaginative coherence. Finally, although the game seems to set up for an epic sequel, the writing in the closing couple of hours really doesn’t wrap the game up satisfactorily. I’m not saying it’s bad or disappointing ending, just that it runs out of energy, and is something of a let down next to the ludicrous awesomeness of Chapter Two. I’m not going to spoil that, but let’s just say: Strong like ox.

I suppose I should mention the sex stuff. I found it to be extremely low-key by comparison to the previous game. It’s bawdy at times, and a little sexist, but seldom too offensive to worry about. There’s nakedness and bad sex jokes, but it’s fine. It is however totally fucking weird at times. There’s a scene where Geralt deliberately bursts in on some lesbian dominatrix stuff. It’s entirely (to my perception) random, and makes about as much sense as the camera panning around to reveal a Martian wearing a Tuxedo. There’s no explanation, and the scene skips straight to quest dialogue. (Yes, I have the magic crystal, etc.) I’m not sure what it was meant to say about the character in question. I don’t actually know why it was there at all. Weird.

You can, of course, have sex with prostitutes. (And in the game!)

So, now that I’ve finished blathering about words and flesh, are there other issues to take note of? Well, there was a moment toward the start where the scripting just didn’t work, but that seems like a minor issue in a game of this breadth and complexity. I managed to complete all the side-quests that I went for, even if I did get badly stuck on a couple of them. The worst element for me, actually, was the map. The close-up view left me baffled about where I was, and was near-useless for navigating my way around. I’m usually Captain Spatial Awareness when it comes to this kind of game, but The Witcher 2′s map had me running in circles. It’s also notable that you can zoom out and get a wider map of the various regions, which are all in Cyrillic. (Although, I now note, in english on the paper map that comes with the Premium Edition.) That seems like authentic touch, until you realise it conveys no information at all to anyone without that language. You can’t even make out where you are supposed be if you’re not up on that particular alphabet. An English-language map might not have been as atmospheric, but it would have made all the rambling on about different nations and regions make sense. It would have given me context, I would have been able to see who was fighting who. That would have made a huge difference to the overall experience of the game.


Also, doors are terrible. Really badly done. Characters have to use them one at a time, rather than walking through a door that is already open. This created some combat weirdness, and made me shout. A minor quirk, but not good.

Yet none of this really matters, because of what The Witcher 2 manages to do overall. It creates a sinister, cogent, violent, colourful world that is routinely affected by your actions within it. The game comes to life as it is merged with your decisions and articulates a story that is at once overwhelming and engrossing. I’ve enjoyed this collision of combat and story more than I have with any RPG since Vampire Bloodlines. It dissolves my lack of interest in fantasy games with its intensity.

The Witcher 2 is flawed in some ways, and a paragon in others. I cannot recommend everyone play it, because it simply won’t satisfy everyone in the same way, and will frustrate and off-put many with its bizarre little quirks of difficulty and moments of poor design. But I will recommend everyone buy it, because I want to play another one. And another one. And many more after that.

Well done, CD Projekt, you’ve just brought the fantasy RPG back to life. It’s still twitching from the electricity, but it’s a beautiful thing.

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301 Comments »

  1. Iskariot says:

    I bought the first witcher’s enhanced edition. I have tried several times to get into it but somehow I always fail. Perhaps one of the reasons being that the fighting feels incredibly clumsy.
    Time and time again, I find myself starting up other games that are much more fun to play, and I never return to the witcher.

    • Wixard says:

      I absolutely felt he same way about the first.

      But even so, i bought the witcher 2. It’s head and shoulders over the first in terms of . . . well everything.

      The combat in #2 didn’t have the same sort of clumsy feel as the first when you get used to it.

  2. StingingVelvet says:

    Good review Jim, thanks for your thoughts. I largely agree… I think the early difficulty is almost entirely due to the lack of a real tutorial though. Once I understood what to do and how to do it even chapter one became sort of easy. Also I had to move block off the E key… crazy hard to think to use it when it’s on the keyboard for me, for whatever reason.

  3. TariqOne says:

    Despite what you chinstrokers and artier-than-thou wonks would have us believe, the cRPG — even the fantasy cRPG — is and has been doing just fine, and this includes titles like the generally finely written and acted DA2, and the marvelously entertaining and satisfyingly deep and fiddly New Vegas, two titles you excessively, in my view, pilloried. There are plenty of bones one could pick with this title’s RPG bona fides, as well as its release state and promised patching, if one wanted to be a curmudgeon. As has been obvious for months, you all just weren’t ever to swing the same lumber this time around. That’s cool, but my word, this lily’s a bit gilt.

    • Wixard says:

      I enjoyed Dragon Age 2 for what it was. Had it been made by anyone besides bioware I dont think it would have recieved the same sort of flak. They after all had set some mighty fine standards for themselves.

      I wasn’t as crazy about new vegas though because of the setting. I would have been happy with more fallout 3. All that said on its own merits it was good enough.

    • TariqOne says:

      @Wixard: excellent point about DA2, and I think that informed a lot of the piling on here and elsewhere.

      FONV I found to be truer to the lively spirit of FO1 and FO2, two of my all-time favorite gaming experiences ever. I appreciate that others might feel differently, but saying it was phoned in and that the devs didn’t give a fuck has never sat right with me.

      Juxtaposing those reviews with the histrionics of the statement that W2 has jolted a dead genre back to life with its electricity, I just dunno. I get the feeling this is all a bit of the I-was-into-Modest-Mouse-before-they-sold-out thing. I loves me the indies and the quirky as much as the next snob, but honestly, credibility ’round here, for me at least, is on the wane.

    • Lilliput King says:

      TW2 does have impeccable ‘indie’ credentials, and so will always be received differently. There’s no changing that. Why does it matter what people think?

      unrelated: When did Modest Mouse sell out? :(

    • UncleLou says:

      I beg to differ. Had Dragon Age 2 been made my an unknown, small studio, it would have gotten mediocre reviews, and sunk like a stone. It benefited from a HUGE Bioware bonus on many review sites who were quite willing to overlook that it was an obviously rushed, phoned in effort, and not anywhere near Bioware’s own standards.

  4. UncleLou says:

    Armour and weapons change your agility and your combat effectiveness etc? Stabs working better with some enemies, slices with others… Neither really open world, nor first person, but have you played Demon’s Souls? Best melee combat in any game, ever, and does exactly what you want (in the quote), and a lot more.

    edit: Well, that was meant to be a reply. :-/

  5. RakeShark says:

    I present to you the connection you never wanted to make:

    http://i.imgur.com/8zaOc.jpg

    Seriously, I cannot look at conversation shots without thinking it.

    • m4x1u says:

      Holy Crap!

      You’ve changed my viewing of this game forever. Kevin Kostner as The witcher?! :O

  6. Soon says:

    So, doors that glow when you use the medallion. Are they hiding secrets and I’m just missing how to open them? I don’t want to know how to open them, just if it’s possible. Before I go mad.

  7. Sheng-ji says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for a great review, as ever!

    Could I ask about the control system?

    I found the controls in the first game rather odd – there are three available and each of them seems flawed in some way and they all give me motion sickness for the first hour or two of playing if I haven’t touched the game for a month or two. That being said, I think I would be disappointed if it controls like a bioware game, good as theirs is, the witcher controls, once you’ve adapted feel more immersive and give a heightened tension to combat.

  8. Premium User Badge

    jsbenjamin says:

    I haven’t had the chance to start playing yet, so maybe I’ll understand all the subtleties of this WIT once I do, but one thing stuck out to me: Jim’s claim to have pretty much ignored alchemy (or, rather, calling it “optional/superfluous”). If this game is anything like the first one, alchemy would be essential to success (in addition to being a central part of the fiction, of course). I cannot imagine trying to make it through the first game without plenty of potion-brewing (I mean, you at least need Cat to see in caves and crypts! ;) ). Are potions not just as crucial to success in Witcher 2 as in Witcher 1?

    Overall, unlike many WITs, this one left me a little confused about the take-away. But then, I was going to play this pretty much no matter what (i.e., short of “Dear god it’s horrible!”). Thanks for playing to exhaustion to give us your thoughts, Jim!

    • kyrieee says:

      I can’t answer for him but I think he meant without using more than the bare essentials like Cat and Swallow. There’s a lot of crafting / alchemy in TW2.

    • Jolly Teaparty says:

      I’m afraid it’s a bit rubbish in this new game. The effect of the potions just seems less significant and more generic. For example, Thunderbolt no longer slows time but just provides a damage boost at the expense of vitality. You no longer need alcohol bases, and you can no longer make higher quality potions through secondary ingredient matching. You can’t overdose, toxicity only affects how many potions you can take, which is already arbitrarily limited to three (upgradeable to four through talents). At the moment there’s a bug which lets you imbibe as many potions as you can regardless of toxicity.

      In short, the alchemy system has been dumbed down. I really miss it because it makes me feel less like a witcher and more like a dude with a sword. This being said it still doesn’t spoil The Witcher 2, because at its core is still a good story told against the backdrop of a beautiful game world.

    • Premium User Badge

      cairbre says:

      @Jolly for me i much prefer the potions in W2 because I could never get my head around it in the first one.

  9. dr.castle says:

    “What’s weird about The Witcher 2 is that the prologue is about the hardest bit in terms of how this combat system handles you.”

    That sounds distressingly like the first Witcher. The boss fight at the end of Act I was absolutely brutal, and was made worse by the fact that you absolutely HAD to use a blizzard potion and specter oil to have a chance (at least on Hard, which I always go for). Normally this wouldn’t be a big problem, you just reload your last save and go get the items you need, but in this case the only character that sells specter oil and potion-making supplies disappears from her hut ~1h of gameplay before the boss fight. Replaying this (quite dull) section just in order to beat the first boss in the introductory section of the game was infuriating. In fact, it was certainly the most frustrating in-game experience I’ve had in the past couple of years.

    Witcher 2 looks great, and I will be purchasing it as soon as I have time for an RPG, but no more of that please.

    • Dominic White says:

      To clarify, the very first fight of the game is, initially, brutally hard because there’s been no real tutorial leading up to that point. Once you actually have a handle on the core combat system, it’s a cakewalk, but there really should have been a half hour at least of proper combat explanation before you get dropped into a brawl like that.

      It’s nothing as ridiculous as The Beast, which could just one-shot you for shits and giggles unless you happened to know that it had a near-instant-kill Pain attack that can only be negated by choosing the Buzz skill at level-up and then drinking about five bottles of vodka just before the fight begins.

  10. Uthred says:

    After banging through The Witcher last week I was somewhat unprepared for the changes in the combat system, more so from a conceptual standpoint. In the first game you could bang through it on normal with no hassle by simply abusing Igni and your sword skills. The other signs were of questionable or limited use and bombs and alchemy were nice but hardly required. Not so in The Witcher 2, every sign is useful, particularly Aard and the trap one who’s name escapes me. Igni is probably my least used sign at the moment (planning to buff it with talent points). Likewise alchemical potions, every single fight that initially had me gritting my teeth in frustration was made so much more palatable by re-loading and buffing myself with alchemy beforehand. I’d actually go so far as to suggest that the fights are balanced around you using alchemy fairly regularly. And considering the abundance of ingredients there’s really no reason not to.

  11. Ravenger says:

    For a PC exclusive game it strangely feels like a well-done multiplatform port due to the interface and combat system seemingly being designed primarily for 360 controllers. It really seems like it was designed with the intention of making porting easy to consoles, and it suffers a little bit because of that.

    It also fails to properly support key remapping, preventing you binding the arrow keys and many others, which for left handers and disabled people is a big issue. The lack of 16:10 support has been mentioned, but it also doesn’t pause when you alt-tab out, which isn’t something we expect from PC games. It’s still an excellent game, but doesn’t really feel like a game designed entirely and exclusively for PCs.

    That said it’s staggeringly beautiful – probably the most gorgeous I’ve seen since Crysis, performs really well, and now I’m past the rediculously hard prologue the gameplay and story are just getting better and better.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I love the game to bits and am not knocking it, but you are certainly right that it feels like a VERY well done multiplatform game, rather than the PC exclusive it (currently) is. I’ll take that any day over a sloppy port or a PC exclusive that isn’t that good though.

      I wish all companies started on the PC and then ported down to the consoles. Imagine Mass Effect 2 made for the PC? My God…

    • jimjonescult says:

      I agree that it feels like it was designed with an eye towards consoles. The way the game plays better with a controller, the simple input command structure, the interfaces and the fact that it is DX9 ala 360 with no DX11 goodness rumored all convince me that it was made with a console port in mind. Having said that, I don’t really care. If I get to use the 360 controller for a real time action RPG and combine the processing power of my PC, I’m quite happy. I think the combination is a good one. About the only things I like to use a mouse/keyboard for are turn based games, rts and some puzzle games. Everything else plays better with a controller, in my opinion. Even shooters (I know, blasphemy blah blah).

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I like [;’# myself, or ijkl as alternatives to wasd – I have always found the arrow keys too close to the bottom of the keyboard to use comfortably

    • Subject 706 says:

      Agree that it is nothing bad with using a controller for PC games, certainly disagree that combat is shit in TW2 without it though. I play with Mouse and keyboard and have zero problems with it. Horses for courses and all…

  12. UK_John says:

    @Wixard Your point about Dragon Age 2 was completely the wrong way round. Dragon Age II, despite all the problems that have been said about it, still got 9.0′s plus in the major gaming sites. If DA2 had been don by CD Projekt, it would have scored in the 7′s I am sure. As it stands I think many gaming sites will give Witcher 2 under 9.0 because they cannot bring themselves to score a 9.0 for a non U.S. smaller developer, however good the game is. Same the other way around. Bioware release a load of tat and still get 9.0′s. this is what gamers railed against.
    For those that never bought the first Witcher, an excellent cRPG in it’s own right, GOG.com has it with lots of extras for a mere $4.99!

  13. Howl says:

    So after wandering around a forest, killing bandits, realising I was waaay off route and probably headed towards some other quest area, finding the map function, backtracking, taking the correct route, chatting to my NPC ladyfriend, hopping down a mountain and finding the boat I set out to find 30 minutes before… I die to a impossible gangbang of fishmen and find myself back in the tree with the elf.

    30 minutes? I’m raging! *rageface*

    L2autosave at the dialogue section before you throw 10 enemies at the player, thanks.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Learn2quicksave in open world games dood.

    • sebmojo says:

      f5 is your friend.

      (sympathy, though, that is a pain)

    • m4x1u says:

      been there done that. multpiple times. even when I promised myself to remember to F5. I guess it teaches you some respect to the game in order to pay attention to your surroundings, stay alert & combat ready.

      still, it tends to piss me off :)

  14. MadBonsai says:

    We don’t use Cyrillic, guys ;)
    It’s Glagolitic alphabet, the oldest known Slavic alphabet :)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glagolitic_alphabet

    Enjoy the game :)

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I saw the use of Glagolitic in the early preview videos and loved it, because it’s a beautiful script that’s mostly unheard of in the West. It’s also good to see a fantasy RPG that doesn’t use Futhorc runes. And obviously it’s much more appropriate than Futhorc for a story coming from Poland.

  15. starmanjones says:

    Just a heads up for anybody with Nvidia cards – uninstalling the Nvidia 3D vision drivers from the control panel and updating to the latest Nvidia beta driver increases performance momentously. My game went from being unplayable on low-medium settings to getting a constant 60+ fps on high settings.

  16. SpaceAkers says:

    Hmm… after all the talk of how difficult the combat is, I did not really have any problems.

    Just dodge a lot and use the spells and traps and bombs!

    It would certainly be difficult if you didn’t use the dodge thing, but basically every game that has a dodge / roll thing wants you to spam it all over the place.

    So, to any1 put off or worried that the combat will be too hard at the start, imo it really wasn’t very hard at all!

    granted, I’ve had the benefit of some tips and pointers in this WIT! The game does a pretty poor job of explaining anything. THE JOURNAL IS YOUR FRIEND.

  17. Sunjammer says:

    Odd how many complain that the focus on controller support is somehow anathema to a purely PC style of game. There is nothing to RPGs beyond inventory management that requires much clickyclick, and this is a game where you mostly mash attack buttons. I’d much rather do that with a controller than with mouse buttons. The combat in this game is honestly absolute shit without a controller.

    I’m actually kind of astonished at how PC this game feels for all its controller focus. I think it’s super cool that PC developers can assert solidly that the PC is actually the best console around, only nobody is treating it properly as such.

    Like developing mobile apps, there’s been this thing where you’d target iphone first and then maybe port to android. Which is crazy, because android is wide open in terms of its hardware, and the iphone is the known quantity. So it makes much more sense to target android first and then port to iphone. In the same way, you’d think developers could deliver an amazing controller-driven experience on the PC, and then port that to consoles without having to compromise on the controls.

    In my opinion this is one of the first truly next gen PC titles, because it embraces the future rather than bitch about it.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s not that gamepad support is anathema to a PC game. I don’t care if a game supports a gamepad controller as well as mouse + keyboard. Options are always good. The point is that a game marketed to PC gamers shouldn’t work better on a controller than it does using mouse + keyboard.

      There are many PC gamers who don’t own that extra bit of hardware, so it’s not unreasonable to expect optimization for the default PC hardware, with controller support being icing on the cake. There are also PC gamers like me, who have our computer’s USB buss crammed to the gills with flight simulator hardware controllers, and I’m not going to buy yet another controller just to play one game.

    • Sunjammer says:

      I just don’t see your point. I would have last week, but this game makes perfect sense to me. Well maybe it’s time you got a new controller. A 360 controller is dirt cheap, and you’ll see lots more like this in the future. Suck it up. It’s as much a part of the PC interface vocabulary as anything else at this moment, given the amount of pc/console crossover.

    • Dominic White says:

      I remember a time where it was completely acceptable for PC games to actually REQUIRE a joystick or gamepad, and it happened fairly regularly.

      Nowadays, even offering gamepad *support* is somehow an insult to the purity of PC gaming. Somehow, I doubt consoles are to blame for that.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I suspect the thing most likely to drag me out of retirement next – if the Witcher’s refusal to work doesn’t do it – it’ll be a FOR FUCK’S SAKE, BUY A JOYPAD piece.

      KG

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I have only been playing TW2 with keyboard and mouse. I can’t see how anyone can think it has been designed to work better on a controller, since its K+M controls are wonderful. Evidently a lot of work has been put into them.

      Since I’m not hearing people complaining that it’s hard to play on a controller, I conclude that it’s also been well polished for controller input too.

      And the game is unquestionably better for working well with both.

    • Ravenger says:

      In the old PC games that required a joystick or gamepad you generally only used them for the actual game input – for example flight and space sims only required joystick use for the actual flying bits. The in-game menus were designed for keyboard and mouse use only. You wouldn’t use the flight stick to navigate around the front end for instance.

      What we’re seeing here is everything being designed primarily around the 360 controller – the front end, in-game menus such as inventory, and the control system, are all optimised for controller use. That inevitably leads to compromises in the control and menu design, compared to an interface designed exclusively for mouse and keyboard.

      The end result is a game that doesn’t feel like it was designed exclusively for PC, it feels like an excellent multiplatform game instead. That’s not to say it’s bad game – it is probably the best PC release this year – but it’s not quite the PC centric game I was expecting.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Makariel says:

    Time to get a new graphics card then…

  19. ziusudra says:

    Never played the first one… Is Geralt a likeable fellow?

    • Zenicetus says:

      If you liked the nameless gunslinger played by Clint Eastwood during his Sergio Leone spaghetti western period, then you’ll like Geralt. He’s the strong, silent, don’t-mess-with-me type.

      .

  20. Tony M says:

    This review is a great example why reviews don’t need a number at the end. No number would accurately reflect the admiration, quirks and shortcomings described by the body of the review.

  21. mwoody says:

    I love the game itself, and I know everyone is all yay-gog.com and CDProjekt at the moment, but has anyone noticed the rather astoundingly brazen self-promotion the game contains? I completed a quest in-game and was directed to a page on gog.com with a coupon for Atari software!

    It’s not quite like having a party member in your camp advertise DLC, but it certainly doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth. Especially since I purchased it on Steam, and it’s now advertising Steam’s competitor.

    I’m tired, and I’ve been playing long past my bedtime, so maybe I’ve just missed where everyone is already talking about it. But if not, I have to ask: as much as we raise a stink at self-promotion in similar games, why is this one getting a pass? I suppose “because it’s awesome” is a valid answer, but still, it warrants a mention.

    • Rii says:

      That’s messed up.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Personally, I really dug the Lucky Roll achievement. The penitent monk made me properly explode with laughter when I realised what was happening.

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Yeah, that really irks me. As also did the contract on the noticeboard that said something like “An additional troll contract is available if you register your game on thewitcher.com”. You can go plough yourself if you think that that improves the game.

      I’m liking the game despite that, but it’s not all sunshine and roses with the external tie-ins and DLC.

  22. Dhatz says:

    speaking of poor design, there is no visible mechanism at the gate you need to open in prologue. I just kind of hate how the menus don’t have descriptive mouseover texts when I need em and there aren’t loading hints.

  23. CTRL-ALT-DESTROY says:

    God, it’s really funny that you mention that bit about Bloodlines because that exact thought went through my head while I was finishing up chapter two today. This game is fucking brilliant. And Deus Ex is yet to come?! Good god y’all!

  24. Sinnorfin says:

    Anyone knows if there are plans on adding proper support for non-widescreen monitors? ( so its playable without black stripes covering a quarter of the monitor

    • Premium User Badge

      sonofsanta says:

      As mentioned earlier in the thread, and in a couple of other threads round about: yes, it’s being patched in.

  25. bill says:

    The reverse difficulty sounds a little like I encountered in Jade Empire (which sounds like it has a similar combat setup).

    It was in many ways due to my not learning the system. But it also seems to be a by product of combining action and RPG-character-building. At the beginning your health is low, your attacks slow and weak, and you have a lot less options available to you. That makes a fight against three village drunks really difficult.
    Yet at the end i could burn through dozens of demons and ninja without ever taking a hit.

  26. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    Inevitably failed to resist the urge to wait until the weekend (and patches, Crossfie profiles etc.) so spent last night faffing around setting it up. And with the video options outside the game, it really was a faff – the intent-to-console is very clear (esp. with the forced 16:9), but then, it’s a game that deserves to be seen by a wider audience, and if they can port those graphics to the console-toys it should see a fair amount of attention.

    That motion blur is horrible, though.

    I’m similarly struggling with the combat still… sometimes it goes very smoothly, sometimes I’m getting hacked into tiny pieces. I think a lot of the issue might be that in the last game, “run into middle of group” was the quickest tactic with a levelled up group style, and here, it’s just the quickest route to death. The targetting is a bit funny as well. I think I shall try with a pad, though, and see how it goes.

    I’m also loving how many choices there seem to be already as well – within a few minutes you’ve made a call on how to deal with the Crinfrid Reavers, you’ve approached different characters in different ways, and unlike the also-brilliant ME2, it’s not obvious how these things will pan out. That’s what I enjoy most about TW2 against ME2, I think – the uncertainty of choices.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Can you not remove motion blur in options? It seems that you can, but can’t remove “action blur” from certain moves Geralt performs.

    • James T says:

      I think a lot of the issue might be that in the last game, “run into middle of group” was the quickest tactic with a levelled up group style, and here, it’s just the quickest route to death.

      I’ve been hanging back or running around in circles to try and avoid being crowded to death, but I still really wish this game hadn’t chucked out Geralt’s group-combat stance. Hopefully this won’t be so bad once I’ve buffed Geralt’s parrying, but then, if I do that to keep my head above water, I inexplicably drain the same ‘Vigor’ I use to cast spells. Sure, you can narratively justify it (Our Magic Is Different!) but it’s not a very intuitive connection. Everyone and their dog complained about the combat in the original, so no doubt it was priority one for CDPR to create a new system, but I don’t really see what makes this one better.

  27. makute says:

    A few questions from an individual that’s is currently playing TW: EE, DC:
    1.- World size: Bigger or smaller than TW 1?
    2.- Time to completition: I’m about to finish Chapter 2 and, according to Steam, my total playing time is 47’9 h. (I’m not particularly retarded, just like to explore every single bush -pun intended-, and speak to every NPC -wich I found very rewarding indeed-.
    3.- Camera behaviour: I’m not sure if you can change from third person to isometric like in TW, if so, It is corrected?
    4.- Sexual intercourse: How it is conducted? I really love the art of the card drawings.
    I’ll appreciate any non-spoilery answer :)

    • Khann says:

      1. About the same
      2. Not finished it myself yet, but from what I’ve read about the place, if you go digging for all the side quests, you could get 40-50 out of it.
      3. Fixed behind-the-back third person.
      4.- No cards, but full uncensored nudity.

  28. Raye says:

    On the whole anachronism thing, I just felt like I should mention, there is an in-universe explanation for this. See, it is very heavily hinted in the books and even the first game to a degree, (maybe the second as well, I am only halfway through chapter 1) that the world it takes place in is, in part, OUR world, or one very similar to ours. There was “the conjunction of spheres” which if you piece it together seems pretty clear that several alternate universes collided and merged into one, humans appear to be invaders from another dimension, into the one originally inhabited by the elves. Most societies were nearly obliterated in this conjunction and they had to essentially start from scratch, but some cultural knowledge survived. It’s possible that humans from different eras intermingled, as well, that it wasn’t from just one place and time they arrived from. (there was definitely time travel in the first game, after all) It’s intentional hinting about the origins of the world that there are anachronistic elements. I realize it seems strange that they seem to know about DNA and throw around words like ‘mutant’ and such, but if you look into the lore, it does make sense. It’s actually a science fiction story dressed in medieval clothing.

    • Premium User Badge

      Big Murray says:

      “On the whole anachronism thing, I just felt like I should mention, there is an in-universe explanation for this. See, it is very heavily hinted in the books”
      No offence, but any explanation for the anachronism element that begins like that doesn’t help the situation.

    • Havok9120 says:

      Of course it helps. This game is a sequel to a series that has 3 short story compilations, 4 novels, and an 80 hour video game. Its not like CDP can just ignore all that. Granted, they got rid of many (but not nearly all) of the in-game books explaining the backstory, but still. Its a deep and detailed universe and you have to respect that.

  29. adammtlx says:

    Agreed with this WIT in most parts, but not all.

    1. I’m glad the combat doesn’t hold your hand. It’s more rewarding when you figure things out for yourself.

    2. The “restrictive” parts of the combat, like the animations, I think were intentional. Casting a shield spell causes you to stop in your tracks for a few moments. This forces you to carefully consider when you’re going to cast it so you don’t get impaled from behind.

    3. Alchemy could be ignored, sure, but you’re missing out on a lot of fun. For example, my first fight with an endrega queen. After she wiped the floor with me the first time, I looked back at my endrega journal entry and it mentioned they were vulnerable to bleeding. I cooked up some brown oil to coat my sword and set a series of snare traps in a line before the fight started. By the time she reached me, I’d taken off nearly half of her health with my snares. The rest of the fight wasn’t easy and I survived with only a sliver of health, but it was exhilarating and rewarding.

    For the first time in a very long time in any game, I truly felt as if I’d taken on a big, scary monster and defeated it by the skin of my teeth. It was a wonderful feeling, abetted by the incredible, unbelievable atmosphere in every corner of the world. This is what Dragon Age II should have been. It’s totally amazing and rivals Warcraft II, HL2, ME2 and Portal 2 for best sequel I’ve ever played. And it’s possibly my favorite game in a few years.

    • adammtlx says:

      That said, movement is a little imprecise in cramped corners and certain movement animations are slow and annoying (opening doors, climbing up and down dropoffs, etc). My main complaint about the combat is that trying to block with E doesn’t work at all about half the time and that if you find yourself in the middle of a mob of bad guys, you basically can’t do anything and you die. At least at the stage I’m at. Oh, and yeah. The map is functionally bad.

      Also, I enjoy swinging my rake at bandits.

    • Zepposlav says:

      Sometimes you can’t block because block uses the same “yellow bar” resource your signs use. :) It’s not a bug.

    • vagabond says:

      1. No, fuck that shit. I’ve just spent 15-20 attempts at the first fight in the game trying to figure out why I can massacre everybody except the guy in the plate armour, and the guy with the tower shield, who mess my shit up every single time. The game offers zero feedback as to why what I’m doing doesn’t work. I think the attacks from the plate armour guy can’t be blocked, and I think I need to block the shield guy and then retaliate while he’s staggered, which means killing him last because standing around and blocking while plate dude is still kicking is a recipe for death. However, I have confidence in exactly none of that analysis, because for all I know I could have been facing slightly the wrong direction while trying to block or something. After all, I’m still trying to figure out why I sometimes miss with Igni despite the game appearing to have an auto-targeting function.
      I then got past those guys in some sort of fluke and discovered there are at least two more waves of guys and now I’m dead and back at my last save point before the first fight.
      I’m glad you feel that you are able to scrape through fights with monsters by the skin of your teeth, but I feel like I can’t even win one fight with what must surely be the easiest standard mooks in the game, so I’m going to stop playing now. I’ll probably give it another go in a few days or a week, but only because I don’t want to feel like I’ve completely wasted my money.

      EDIT: I’ve sussed it out. Stupid old me. I wasn’t spending 90% of the fight running away from everybody. Now that I know this I’ve made it a fair bit further in a relatively easy, if tedious, fashion. I’m not sure why anybody thinks that this is any less dull than the combat in the first one though.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    The calamity of the first game sadly makes me reluctant to dip my toe into this one.

  31. Mihkel says:

    I’d wish that Geralt wouldn’t delay his actions all the time in combat. Takes ages for him to throw a dagger, bomb or just block a dude with a sword sometimes. Otherwise I’m very much enjoying my purchase.

    • Zepposlav says:

      You can’t block without vigor. Block using vigor prevents you from spamming it mindlessly I guess. ;]

    • Mihkel says:

      Naah dude, I mean that Geralt sometimes takes a few seconds to perform an action. Like there’s a little delay between the key press and the action sometimes.

  32. animal says:

    Here’s my Unwitchering 2 experience so far:
    - I get the game, install and run it. It goes through activation, I enter my key…it says something about patching and the window disappears. Repeat a few times…eventually figure out its too early and they haven’t activated activation. Ok, a popup message or something would have been useful?
    - Later on I set my keys. Since I use ESFC for running around I’m in trouble because it doesn’t allow you to rebind C. Time to edit some config files.
    - Start one of the first missions, it tells me I can block with E. Errr, great…
    - Try looking around, oh wait, mouselook is wrong. Don’t see a mouselook option anywhere. More googling/editing of config files.
    - Start game and notice the key config app I had rerun to look for mouselook has rebound C to what it wants. Quit again.
    - I start the Dragon mission, it tells me we’re running from awning to awning…I run and get flamed. Few retries later I decide to run with the NPC’s. They’ll know when its safe, right? Oh no wait, they’re immortal and will run at exactly the wrong time, every time. Queue more retries, eventually get past, but now my hp is a bit low. Open the inventory, great, I have a potion. Try to drink it. Errr, no. I eventually give up on the potion and attack. Die. Repeat some more. Friendly NPC’s get stuck around exit gate while enemies hammer me since I have no room to do anything. Repeat some more.

    Overall so far its been quite frustrating, and where usually after two free evenings I’d have put in a solid 8-12 hours of play I’m now probably not even on an hour yet.

  33. Alextended says:

    I like the animation priority over control. They make it less button mashy when your actions are limited by the speed with which Geralt can actually do them. I mean, it makes sense strong blows are slower than weak blows. More damage has a downside. It makes sense you need to get away from trouble for a second to cast a spell. And so on. It works well and it’s still fast, it’s not like using a greatsword in Monster Hunter or something, I think most people will be fine with that aspect. Granted there are instances where he just doesn’t do what you want him to even he’s not occupied with another action at the time, that shit should be fixed for sure.

    What most won’t be fine with is how the game feels unfinished and like it needed 6 more months of development time. It looks spectacular in stills but there are a million little or big things that show CDP don’t have the funds or experience to make a game as grand as the stills imply, and didn’t adjust their vision accordingly.

    Cut scene animations are all wrong, including facial animations, which is jarring with how good faces otherwise look. Epic cut scenes often have nearly no sound and music, just basic sound effects that don’t convey their mood well at all (see the Kayran intro scene for example, all hell is breaking loose with that witch’s casting, but you hear nothing at all outside the Kayran’s own roar once it comes into view). The camera stumbles about in pretty much every door/ladder/whatever transition. Minor cut scenes drop in and out too abruptly, with the characters in completely different positions upon their end, not to mention sometimes they don’t even play. Overall the presentation is lacking and feels unfinished despite the quality of the assets.

    Then there are gameplay issues, like those mentioned in this WOT, and more. The inventory weight system is pretty much completely broken (so far, who knows, maybe that also fixes much later than it should), you’ll find yourself always at the limit and not bothering with more crafting, instead selling the materials, as you can’t even store your shit anywhere for later use. Combat hit detection is janky, and Geralt moves very unpredictably from one enemy to the next. Sometimes he’ll leap toward an enemy and strike from 5m away, other times you’ll be right next to one and he’ll be swinging at thin air. Other times you’ll be wailing on an opponent only for Geralt to decide to jump toward one who is behind him. It just feels wrong on so many levels.

    There are many more minor or major annoyances, I haven’t even gotten into technical issues many are still experiencing. If this was as polished as even (much) lesser titles like Two Worlds 2 it would have been the game of the forever for me. It’s not.

    I hope they will iron out a lot of these, rather than only patch up bugs and what not. I’m not confident they will, The Witcher’s so called Enhanced Edition still has many such issues, but their intentions for DLC and actual expansions hopefully mean they will polish not just the engine but also the gameplay and presentation.

    • Alextended says:

      I finished it. It felt like half a game, I thought I was at the halfway point yet it was the damn end. Chapter one is basically 50% of the game and the only areas with somewhat meaningful exploration and stuff to do outside being railroaded down story tunnels with stupid dialogue trees and QTEs. The rest of the game has little of that much like the prologue. What the fuck happened CDP? Did you set out to make Witcher Gaiden? Either way, this fails as a CRPG due to how shallow it is and fails as an action game due to how unpolished it is, it’s a mediocre hybrid that will satisfy fans of neither genre and is only praised for looking spectacular on PC (in stills I should add, in gameplay there are loads of issues that show CDP bit more than they could chew). Though it will probably look close enough with the inevitable console port anyway. If Bioware had made this as Dragon Age 2 people would (understandably so!) express even more outrage than they did.

  34. Guiscard says:

    Sigh. Minimum specs: met. Recommended specs, just a little off. Frame rate on lowest possible settings: 10fps. Ability to actually play: negigible. I’m all for beautful graphics, but developers really should build the damn games from day one to work smoothly on common mid-range PCs. Graphics that don’t allow customers who can’t afford to throw money at their computers is very poor. Did Doom 3 not prove that its possible to make a game that is sufficiently scaleable in graphics to allow for lower spec machines, yet still looks awesome at both lower and high levels? That’s £30 quid basically wasted while Witcher 2 sits on the shelf for 3 years, I don’t have money for new hardware.

    At least it gives me more time to replay the original Witcher to get the save game file the sequel would like.

    • Khann says:

      Out of curiosity, what are your specs? Chances are your PC can run it fine at lower settings – there are just some performance bugs. Many of which haves fixes/workarounds.

      Ideal? No. That’s the situation though.

  35. animal says:

    Sigh, the more I play the less I like it.

    Really? A chamber with 7 armoured enemies? Guess I’ll just park here for the next week of playtime then.

  36. animal says:

    Ok made it past eventually by armoring up. Took many many retries though.

    • m4x1u says:

      sorry to point it out, but looking on the time you’ve posted this.. it took you about 30 minutes :) Not so bad, huh? I was stuck on the chapel guys from prologue for about an hour …

  37. 0over0 says:

    I’ve never read the books, but to explain the strange anachronisms I always imagine that the setting is actually a post-apocalyptic magical/science world. If you do that, it all flows pretty nicely.

    I’ve not seen any reviews mention the similarities between the Witcher setting and the Dragon’s Age setting. Mind you, I like both games and I’m not on a, err, witch hunt or anything. But both companies have taken a somewhat similar idea within the same genre and gone in different directions. Both also successful commercially and critically with their approaches.

    We’re lucky to have both game companies, and though many decry the twilight of PC gaming, I think it’s quite a golden age in many ways.

  38. RegisteredUser says:

    I heard from someone playing it that it has quicktime events.
    Combine this with the target locking and other subtle “clues”, and I bet all the “shut up and take my money” people will be in for a surprise when the supposedly “PC Exclusive!11″ gets a console showing.

    These are people that have openly advocated and spoken for paying anti-P2P lawyers so they can sue themselves into profit rather than convince through a non-DRM product alone.

    Please don’t support this sillyness and clogging of the legal system financially.

    (For anyone that may care: I would have loved to laud them for their nonDRM approach and tell everyone I know to go out and buy it to support them. Thanks to the continued lawyer-madness I now need to do the opposite. It’s just not how this industry or our legal system should work. Ever. The pay-or-else craze has created it’s own bastardized legal industry and it’s really, really bad.)

    • Alextended says:

      CDProjekt never hid their intentions about ports, of course it’s gonna happen if they get publisher interest, which they most likely will this time. They’ve always openly dicussed how their new engine is scalable and can work on consoles after all. I’m not sure what QTEs have to do with that though, you can actually turn them off if you don’t like them and just watch the cut scenes as normal. I imagine that doesn’t work for things like bar brawls though.

      In the end, most of the changes people will decry as consolisation serve to make it a better game, such as the combat, which has all new issues now but is still way better than the original game’s, whether you play with a gamepad or not. The game’s main flaws have to do with its scope and progression/quest/encounter design which has much more to do with spreading their company too thin to make all that amazing art and an all new engine, than any console plans.

      And yep, shame on CDProject for trying different things to protect their investment, first and foremost without hurting the actual consumers with shitty DRM practices (or at least giving them choices on that).

  39. P4p3Rc1iP says:

    Well, I’m just into chapter 2, and honestly, I don’t know if I’ll play any further. The whole game has just too many frustrating little parts. Not being able to save half the time. Throwing you into combat without being able to drink any potions (Which are quite vital to survival), the combat system that’s totally random with locking targets that switch all the time and weird semi-turn based actions. Oh, and the unforgiving deaths after cut scenes, where, before you’ve been able to look around, get killed by something.

    Then there’s the crafting, which was the last drop for me. I bought a schematic for some cool sword that’s supposed to do loads of damage. I craft the thing at a merchant, only to receive a simple short sword in my inventory. Tried it again thinking I must have missed something. No, I didn’t… Materials gone, and 2 shitty swords richer. :

    Oh, did I mention the totally annoying inventory that has no filter for “Junk”, and merchants that lack a buyback system (which is very frustrating if you want to sell some crap quickly).

    Then there’s to total consolified interface with and quick action sequences. The ridiculous difficulty spikes, and the looooong bits without being able to save…
    Oh did I mention (yes, now I’m just nitpicking) the terrible voice acting and sounds? In the middle of a forest the elves sound as if they’re in some hollow dungeon, voices echoing all over the place. And a club does NOT make a slashing sound.

    Honestly, the only thing this game has going for it are the graphics, the rich, filled world, interesting characters and tits.

    Great novel, I’m sure. But as a game it’s shit.

    • m4x1u says:

      @ P4p3Rc1iP

      With respect – sounds like you suck at this game hard :)

    • Wizen says:

      “Honestly, the only thing this game has going for it are the graphics, the rich, filled world, interesting characters and tits.”

      That’s all a nerd such as myself requires.

    • P4p3Rc1iP says:

      “@ P4p3Rc1iP

      With respect – sounds like you suck at this game hard :)”

      Perhaps… So far I’ve done everything on “normal” difficulty. However, there’s a difference between making a game difficult and just frustrating to play. That’s just poor design. Like I also said, it’s many small things, not the whole. With a little more polishing most of the frustrating bits could be taken out and the game would be a lot more enjoyable.

      (Also I just noticed a really weird sentence in my writing: “Then there’s to total consolified interface with and quick action sequences.” Which should have been: “Then there’s the consolified interface and quick action sequences.”)

      Anyway, I still think the game could really shine if it weren’t for so many small annoying things, and I don’t really understand why no one has fallen over these points before. Perhaps it DOES get better after chapter 1, but isn’t the first impression of any product supposed to be the best? Or have all the people been playing on “Easy”?

    • m4x1u says:

      @ P4p3Rc1iP

      In response to your combat difficulties – I had a lot of trouble at first as well. Combat is hard even on normal the first time… until you really get into it, then it’s easy even on hard. Just remember to dodge all the time, drink potions *BEFORE* combat, as Witcher did it in the books, use magical signs, wear uprgaded stuff, read tactics for monsters from ingame books/jounral/character sheet… and take on reasonable opponents at the right time [no level scaling for monsters].

      I agree that it has a lot of little bugs and things that could be improved or otherwise “polished” (hehe, see what I did there? ;).

      For me it’s still a 9+/10 game though, because the overall feeling of the game and the sheer quanity of pure awesomeness of every other aspect of the game, which happens not the be a bug or a minor inconvenience, is done just right. And I do strongly believe, that CDP RED will patch the hell out off this game until it’s completely bug free.

      And, letting my imagination run wild, I hope that they’ll read the feedback from their forums & press, and go for a TW2 EE which will fix it all and add some extra functionality.

  40. UK_John says:

    Seems people are treating this as hough it a console conversion ala Mass Effect and Dragon Age. If you are playing this game on hard, because that’s what you do all the time and can beat the game at that level, you have to realie you have been playing dumbed down console ports that don’t want you to die. This is a PC only game that “may” get converted to console, making it a very different beast!

    Gamers have got softened by playing console port after console port on their PC and think that’s what PC gaming is. The Witcher 2 is a PC cRPG of the old school. Try playing Baldur’s Gate or Wizardry 8 on Hard and see what you get. Or the first System Shock! Gamers have been softened up by our multiformat market, that has now been around nearly 7 years.

    I am hoping with all the 9.0′s being given to this game (which I admit I have been surprised at given the record of gaming sites to games from smaller European developers) that The Witcher 2 will do for PC gaming what Baldur’s Gate did for computer roleplaying!

    All I know is that with the low price point and the amazing amount of packaging content as well as the free DLC’s, Bethesda must be shaking in their boots a little. Certainly after only 20 mins of Witcher 2 play, Dragons don’t seem so special any more!

    • Alextended says:

      Sorry, but The Witcher 2 is a walk in the park compared to console games like Demon’s Souls and Monster Hunter. Hell, it’s a walk in the park even if you don’t compare it to anything. All it has as “difficulty” is some frustration in the early stages before you figure all the controls and functions out, then it’s really piss easy with many completely imbalanced overpowered skills and tools that you don’t have to try to exploit, in fact you’d have to impose some pretty shitty rules on yourself for it to be challenging. The more you play, the easier the game gets, difficulty never ramps up and challenges never go beyond “a bunch of soldiers in a tiny room”. It’s really quite badly done, I have no idea why PC only (ignorance is bliss?) users love it so much outside the visuals (which have their own flaws, like horrible sharpness, horrible animations, etc) and the first chapter or so. Hopefully the planned patches, DLC and expansions take steps to remedy many of these issues, otherwise we can all weep for the downfall of yet another CRPG series, this time before it even brought us much pleasure at all even. Hopefully Risen 2 will make up for The Witcher failings, if it’s closer to Gothic 2 than Risen 1 was. Also, look to E3 for The Witcher announcement for consoles. There’s no “may” here, the game was always meant to be ported and it shows with all the improvements the combat system has (which don’t save it from all the other bad design choices) from the first game due to the console port intentions.

  41. Stevostin says:

    I have to come somewhere and say how annoyed I am with this game.
    Witcher 1 was so bad and annoying I got bored to death before the end of the intro. Ok, Witcher 2 is way better. Writting is pretty good, Character design is really good, as is animation. Combat are decent. And yes, the game really is a contribution to the RPG genre, innovating both in story telling and refusing the code of “decisions = reward” for the benefit of focus on the story, not the loot. Whis is great and I hope to see become a standard.
    Sadly, I am in the middle of the Floatsam bit and every day it’s the same : I try to play a bit and quite literally my mouse and keyboard fall out of my hands. A shame it really is, because it should be my kind of game. I am a RPG boy, Bethedsa mainly but I also digged Mass Effect.
    My first grip with TW2 is that… well, it’s not as ugly as it was on screenshot, but still, it’s pretty bad. It has so much bloom and such a raibow palette that Oblivion looks sober in comparison. And while character are nices, maps aren’t. Geralt can’t see above 20 meters, which is really, really low considering that what he sees isn’t especially impressing (to say the least ; it really is pretty raw actually !). But it’s not a huge grip : I discovered I can stand it pretty well (compared to the first game).
    My second grip is the lack of polish. I had to search the internet to just learn that I had to meditate to buy talents. I have no doc at all, I don’t know if there is a keyboard shortcut to lock a target, I don’t know how Rune or Armour improvement are working. I’ve made oil for my weapon and I have absolutely now idea where it has gone in my inventory. And as I can play in hard mode without even dealing with those question, I wonder what’s the point into drowning me early in the game into complexity with no form of reward. Oh, and I don’t know the rule of the dices, but I am floatsam dices champion. With absolutely not an ounce of fun in the process.
    My third, biggest grip is about the quests. There are so much of them it simply is ridiculous. You try to follow one and on your way a character related to another one pops up and interrupt you to do something else you have no idea about. The game seems to think you want to do things you absolutely have no idea of.
    Now if this was a first person sand box RPG, that would be all excusable. But this is a story driven thing. I’ve just played ME2. ME2 was decent but not half as good as ME1. Still, it’s a 8/10 game. TW2 isn’t to me. 7/10 ? Maybe not even that : after all, how can you rate 7/10 a game that just fail to keep you interested ?

    • Alextended says:

      All the “innovations” you speak of were in The Witcher 1. Perhaps you should have done more than watch the intro. Lol @ being an RPG boy but mostly only playing Bethesda games. No, you’re not, if that’s the kind of games you play. 20 metres? Try increasing your settings, there are no issues with the draw distance outside some detail objects, enemies and most of the environment are visible from afar. And lol @ calling it ugly while liking Bethesda games. You can also turn bloom off if vibrancy annoys you that much. You don’t have to meditate to distribute talent points, you can do it directly from the character screen. And why don’t you have a doc? A manual is included with every version of the game, digital or otherwise. Dice is a game of luck, just as in real life, what other fun did you want out of it? You’d have to play it a ton of times to be the champion without even knowing the rules, if it wasn’t fun, why keep doing it? It’s optional. Also, too many quests? What the fuck is wrong with you? Again, most are optional, if all you want is to see the main story, then you can easily do that. Of course you’d be stupid to do so because plenty side quests have great stories of their own, and since you seem to like the game’s core also, why the fuck do you not want more of it for now or for a second playthrough? In short, don’t be stupid.

    • Stevostin says:

      1/ I played the intro of TW1, not watched the cinematic. I realize I pissed you off, but I am sure you can keep enough cool to see that’s what I wrote, and beside, no one would install a game and not at least try to play it. Common sense, please.
      2/ Witcher I did all of that and it didn’t work for me because (among other things) the writing wasn’t solid enough. It has been pointed out by several people, including here, and it explains why TW2 receives far better reviews than TW. So let me state this again : the landmark is reached in TW2 – because it’s a proof of concept TW wasn’t by itself.
      3/ I realise some people will find TW2 nice looking. Some other prefer, by far, Fallout 3 or even Oblivion. There are also are people who think Celine Dion as a great artist and some who prefer Tigran Hamasyan. There is nothing you, or I, can do about it.
      IMHO Humanoïd character are way better in TW2 than in Oblivion, although there are way too much sibling in the world. Now while landscape may look better, the fact that even at max out setting everything just very obviously appears and disappears makes me feel like I am in a dream rather than in a world. Long range sight is very important in a game that has its world design amongst its assets.

      4/ Bethesda invented so many things in the RPG genre than trying to make fun of someone stating admiration to them simply isn’t serious. Bethesda invented modern FPS way more than ID did with Terminator Futurshock and the WSAD + mouse look (before Quake). They basically invented and still are ruling the RPG solo open world. Now I understand you enjoy the Witcher immensely, but no amount of witcher love can legitimate to disregard all the contributions to the genre from Bethesda. Note how I can state my displeasure of TW2 while acknowledging his greatest assets – well you can do the same for Beth and avoir looking like a blinded fanboy.
      5/ there is no manual yet in the steam collector version, an issue that has been acknowledged and traced to a CD Projekt error. Moreover, a lot of the missing stuff should be in the game itself (which features a codex). Well, the codex has some surprising holes. Again, poor polish.
      6/ Dices are actually not only about luck. It’s a Yatze and you have to play with probability – in theory. It seems you didn’t figure out what I was speaking about. I just want to know what are the combo and their rankings. The very basic data you need to play the dices, actually. And no, I didn’t play it a ton of time. I just thought I simply had to reach the biggest sum, and won playing like this with saves and reload. It was quick, and dull. I also play the game in hard and don’t think it’s especially difficult.
      7/ Take an interesting book. In the middle of an interesting chapter, stop to read and open a second book. Start reading. When you start to get what you’re reading, open a third book. Read it. When finished, don’t go back to the first or second book, but take three new book and try to figures what they are all about to decide which one you should read first. Do you enjoy you’re read ?
      Well, it’s the same with quests. Quests aren’t like cheese on a pizza. You can get too much of it.

    • Stevostin says:

      Ah, great, now I can get the player manual. Every answer is there. Big improvement.
      Still, I met my first nekker’s nest with a cryptic “I need to blow this up” message. Had to search the internet to simply get what the game expected me to do out of it – because there was absolutely no clue at all. Half of this game is about finding what the game wants you to do out of its silences, and the other is to choose between a heap of option randomly because you can’t have clue about what is needed without first playing then reloading and use Geralt future divination ability. Typically you make traps that are actually not the ones you need, or you don’t do any, and finally you have to reload and get the right traps done. Potions : even worse. I get it it’s more realistic to have you drink those before fights, but it makes absolutely sure it’s not a game, ie it’s not about you making good decisions in context.
      It’s quite the typical issue with RPG (hell, even STALKER forced you to choose a gun without knowing if you’ll find ammo to use it on the road) but in TW2 it’s really invading my gaming experience.

    • Alextended says:

      What? Your response to me basicaly amounts to “you’re a The Witcher fanboy” and “Bethesda rules”. Are you for real? Read previous posts of mine, I don’t particularly like the game and have expressed why in detail, that doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with your irrational criticisms which are seemlingy powered by little more than love for Bethesda, bad taste, and pure ignorance. I’m the fanboy? I’m not the one who started discussing FPS and Bethesda vs id or whatever man. Thanks for the laughs, try and be a little more subtle next time.

    • Blackseraph says:

      You know those nekker’s nest. Game does gives you a hint. In fact it tells you exactly what you need to do. You have to just read a book about those nekkers.

      On that account. I finally finished Witcher 2, it really is best rpg I have played since Vampire the masquarade: bloodlines. Which is great, I was really getting desperate for good new rpgs lately.

  42. kyrieee says:

    I hope you do one of those roundtable discussions for TW2! :)

  43. Derk_Henderson says:

    So now that the ATI hotfix is finally out, I can play it on high settings in 2560×1440 resolution. It’s still in windowed mode, but I’ve learned to live with it. And holy CRAP, this game is gorgeous. Just mindbogglingly pretty. My fiancee doesn’t play video games, but I’m going to have to load up a save for her just to show her the vistas, because goddamn.

    And, for the most part, it’s an excellent game as well. I’m starting to get the hang of combat, and I’m enjoying the world and the storytelling the same way I did for Witcher 1. It’s definitely shaping up to be a classic, even if I’ve run into EVERY SINGLE BUG people have had with this game (Game only starts in windowed mode? Check. Crossfire doesn’t work? Check. DLC won’t download? Check. The franchise is CURSED for me.)

    That said, I do want to highlight one part of the game that is unforgivably awful, and stands out as a tribute to every piece of bad design that exists today: the bit where the dragon is chasing you over the bridge. I turned hard QTEs off and put the difficulty down to easy, looked around the internet for every hint people had, and none of it helped. I don’t know if I just got unlucky with this or what, but the ONLY way for me to beat it was through sheer chance – running down the right side, or the left side, or dodging back and forth, none of it worked. I died a good 40 times before I beat it. I was thisclose to ragequitting, or at least downloading someone’s save file from after that point.

    There were no useful hints, the intuitive ‘run away’ approach just meant you died a lot, and it made you run through a cutscene (short, but still) every time you retried! This wasn’t exciting, it was punch-the-screen frustrating – exactly the opposite of fun, and I simply do not comprehend the decision to put that section in there. It was bad. Terribly, horribly, amazingly bad. And I really hope that whoever decided to put it in there has been smacked in the face with something heavy – I don’t think I’ve been this angry at a videogame since the knife tower in God of War.

    • P4p3Rc1iP says:

      “That said, I do want to highlight one part of the game that is unforgivably awful, and stands out as a tribute to every piece of bad design that exists today: the bit where the dragon is chasing you over the bridge. I turned hard QTEs off and put the difficulty down to easy, looked around the internet for every hint people had, and none of it helped. I don’t know if I just got unlucky with this or what, but the ONLY way for me to beat it was through sheer chance – running down the right side, or the left side, or dodging back and forth, none of it worked. I died a good 40 times before I beat it. I was thisclose to ragequitting, or at least downloading someone’s save file from after that point.

      There were no useful hints, the intuitive ‘run away’ approach just meant you died a lot, and it made you run through a cutscene (short, but still) every time you retried! This wasn’t exciting, it was punch-the-screen frustrating – exactly the opposite of fun, and I simply do not comprehend the decision to put that section in there. It was bad. Terribly, horribly, amazingly bad. And I really hope that whoever decided to put it in there has been smacked in the face with something heavy – I don’t think I’ve been this angry at a videogame since the knife tower in God of War.”

      I think I got lucky there, it only took me about 4 tries. I found to Kayran boss fight to be the most annoying so far, along with several smaller bits. Boss fights against single enemies are rediculously hard in this game for some reason, but if you turn down dificulty they get too easy.

      I think my biggest issue with the combat is the lack of damage you do to things. A simple foot soldier does more damage with his little sword to you then you do to him, which seems weird as you’re supposed to be some superhuman. For bigger knight type guys this is even harder.

      Oh, and the intro to chapter 2 was very annoying. I had to keep hitting F5 costantly to get a lucky quicksave before I’d be swarmed by those ghosts again. Took me at least 5 tries. AND THERE WAS NO POSSIBILITY TO DRINK POTIONS AT ALL

    • Antlia says:

      This took me two tries, and I found the solution to be very intuitive. When the dragon breaths, just get out of the way to the side duh..

  44. loufoque says:

    The point of this game (and the previous one) is that you can’t just expect to walk up to some monsters and kill them just like that. It is not a grinding game.

    Every enemy requires preparation: you need to study that type of monster and finds its weaknesses, and find which fighting style, potion, oil and signs to use to be able to defeat it.

    You should play in Hard, every other mode is a dumbed-down experience. In Normal, you don’t even need Alchemy to survive, why would you remove yourself the need of the most important strategic element?

  45. Yosharian says:

    Playing on hard, haven’t died in the tutorial yet… game is awesome.

  46. kyrieee says:

    Use Quen and you’ll be fine

  47. UK_John says:

    “Most significant game of 2011″ – that’s not saying anything at all! All that says is it’s better than Dragon Age 2 and Two Worlds 2 – that’s it!

    Quite simply The Witcher 2 is the most significant game since the previous Witcher game!

    I think people who play both Witcher’s through to the end will be surprised when they eventually buy a generic “save the world”, black and white type RPG with two dimensional NPC’s. (Skyrim anyone?). What we would have been happy with in 2006 a year after Oblivion and a year before the first Witcher is not what I think many gamers will be happy with now we have seen and played the Witcher games. The goalposts have changed. I am just not sure how we are going to look at generic cRPG’s in the future now.